Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed the long-awaited sequel to the current console leader, Xbox 360. The next-generation Xbox One device is slated to arrive later this year, creating one central entrainment station just as Microsoft envisioned long before the launch of the original Xbox. It will merge social, gaming, and TV, glued together by the new Kinect 2.0.
Both Wired and PC Magazine report that the console will be based on an APU co-designed by AMD and Microsoft containing eight x86 CPU cores, a DirectX 11.1 GPU similar to the Radeon 7790, and 32 MB of high bandwidth embedded ESRAM memory. The chip will also contain the controller logic and the audio processors, and the GPU and CPU cores will have direct access to the console's 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. The chip connects directly to the heat sink via a phase-change interface material.
However the actual size of the chip is unclear. Wired says that it's 28 nanometers, thus it's presumed to utilize AMD's forthcoming Jaguar CPU architecture like the PlayStation 4's custom APU. But ExtremeTech points out that other exclusive reports claim the chip is based on the 40 nanometer process instead. It's possible AMD somehow backported its 28 nm parts to 40 nm, the site speculates, but that would be a very costly and time consuming task.
"AMD is very excited to be working with Microsoft on their next-generation Xbox One. The Microsoft Xbox One leverages a single-chip, semi-custom AMD APU, with custom components co-developed with Microsoft designed to enable unique attributes of the system Microsoft is bringing to market," Saeid Moshkelani, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit, said in a statement.
"There are similarities about the [PS4 and XB1] APUs you can find based on data that's public from Sony and Microsoft," said AMD spokesman Travis Williams who said he was not in the position to disclose additional hardware specs. "However, I can say each APU was customized and tailor-made for Microsoft and Sony and their respective console and experience design points."
Of course, this is where the backwards compatibility argument comes in. Because the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 use an x86-based CPU architecture, PS3 and Xbox 360 games won't work on the new hardware. Cloud gaming anyone?
"We designed Xbox One to play an entirely new generation of games—games that are architected to take full advantage of state-of-the-art processors and the infinite power of the cloud," Microsoft said. "We care very much about the investment you have made in Xbox 360 and will continue to support it with a pipeline of new games and new apps well into the future."
In addition to the AMD APU, the Xbox One will also feature three Wireless N radios so that the console can connect to gamepads (WiFi Direct), mobile devices and the home network without added latency. It will also feature a custom Blu-ray drive, USB 3.0 ports, HDMI In and Out, and a 500 GB HDD. The console reportedly delivers 8 times the graphic performance of the Xbox 360, and consists of 5 billion transistors compared to the 500 million used in the Xbox 360.